But the world is what it is, and a party that offers nothing, whose ideological sclerosis and internal contradictions allow it to offer nothing, might as well just go pass a tax cut and call it a day.
.. the Republican leadership in Congress persuaded itself that it could pull off a complicated fiscal maneuver, using health care reform to change the budget baseline in anticipation of a tax reform more comprehensive and enduring than George W. Bush’s tax cuts 15 years ago.
.. Republicans could just go ahead and cut taxes the way Bush did — without major offsets but with a 10-year expiration date, so that all you would need is 50 votes plus Mike Pence to do it.
.. there are still lots of clever and plausible ways to overhaul and improve the tax code without sacrificing revenue.
.. You could cap various perverse deductions that mostly benefit wealthy blue-state taxpayers, like the home-mortgage and state and local tax deductions, and use the savings to lower rates across the board. You could cut the corporate tax rate and raise the capital-gains tax rate to compensate, as Senator Mike Lee has proposed. You could even (gasp, heresy, gasp) raise the top income tax rate, as Steve Bannon reportedly wants to do, and use the savings to cut payroll taxes or fund a new child tax credit.
.. Republicans don’t seem equipped to pull off anything complicated, they don’t look united enough to take political risks, and they aren’t ideologically ready to pass anything heretical. So barring a sudden transformation in the party and its leadership, a temporary, deficit-financed tax cut is the only thing that has a decent chance of happening
.. One reason among many that Obamacare repeal has run aground is that the deficit picture doesn’t look as dire as it did when the health care law was passed — and Obamacare itself is not driving the kind of spending surge that many of its critics (myself included) feared.
.. Instead, the ugly years of fiscal cliffs and shutdowns and sequesters produced a certain amount of deficit reduction even without a grand bargain, Medicare spending has been coming in lower than expected, and interest rates have stayed historically low.
.. without doing much entitlement reform, we’re in much better shape than either the Simpson-Bowles commission or the deficit hawks of the 1990s projected... I can live with a Trump administration that appoints conservative judges and fails at everything else, since judicial appointments are about the only thing I trust this G.O.P. to do.